Jumping after Lundby
After five wins in a row, Maren Lundby is the jumper to beat in World Championships
Jo Christian Weldingh
After the first six competitions of the season, Norwegian ski jumper Maren Lundby hadn’t won a single event. Now, seven competitions later, Lundy has won six—five in a row as of Feb. 3.
On Feb. 3, the 24-year-old from Oppland won easily in Hinzenbach, Austria. After having jumped farthest of all contestants on the first jump (90 meters), her closest competitor, Katharina Althaus from Germany, was trailing by almost six points.
“Her contestant must be beginning to lose hope,” NRK commentator Magnus Sveen said, laughing.
After reaching 88.5 meters on the second jump, Lundby won the competition by almost 10 points over Japan’s Sara Takanashi with 250.8. Althaus placed third.
“This victory was important to me,” Lundby said. “It shows that I’m able to perform under pressure.
“More jumpers performed on a higher level today than they have earlier in the season,” she continued. “So, if I want to continue like this, I must stay focused.”
Lundby did just as she did the day before, when she won in Hinzenbach by 12.9 points with two jumps of 86 meters. She had 228.1 points. Now she has won six of the last seven.
Norwegian experts, former and current ski jumpers, and the Norwegian public in general are impressed with Lundby’s performances lately. She is beginning to outshine the Norwegian men and is getting more attention with every win.
“Lundby has been in a class of her own lately; it’s impressive,” former world record holder and current NRK expert Johan Remen Evensen said during the competition in Austria. “She is the biggest Norwegian profile in ski jumping right now, and that includes the guys.”
“Maren Lundby is the biggest Norwegian profile in ski jumping since Bjørn Wirkola,” Norwegian ski jumping president Clas Brede Bråthen told the newspapers after her superb win in Austria.
Wirkola is the Norwegian ski jumping legend who won two World Championship titles and three consecutive Four Hills Tournaments in the 1960s. His brilliant performances as a ski jumper have resulted in the Norwegian expression “Jumping after Wirkola,” signifying the difficulty of embarking on a task someone else has already done brilliantly.
After her victories in Austria, Lundby now has 19 individual World Cup victories in total. Only Takanashi has more, with an amazing 55 wins.
On Jan. 27 in Rasnov, Romania, Lundby jumped 96.5 and 93 meters and finished with 247.6 points. The day before, she totaled 247.8 points with jumps of 94 and 95 meters and won by 10.9. On Jan. 13 in Sapporo, Japan, she jumped 128 and 133.5 meters and won by 19.3 points over Althaus. On Jan. 20 in Zao, Japan, Lundby, with jumps of 96 and 92.5 meters, won by just 1.3 points over teammate Anna Odine Strøm, the first podium for Strøm.
Now only four World Cup competitions remain, one in Slovenia, one in Switzerland, and two in Germany, before the World Championship in Seefeld, Austria, Feb. 20 through March 3. Maren Lundby now is the favorite to copy her feat from last year, when she won the Olympic gold medal in Pyeongchang. Maybe in a decade or so, someone will struggle with the idea of “jumping after Lundby.”
Jo Christian Weldingh grew up in Lillehammer, Norway, and lives in Oslo. He has a bachelor’s degree in archaeology from the University of Oslo and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from BI Norwegian Business School.
This article originally appeared in the February 22, 2019, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.